First it was the CFTC saying that tokens, like Bitcoin, were subject to the same rules as all other financial assets. This is a clear attempt to add costs and barriers to cryptocurrency exchanges brought on by Wall St.
Now it’s Wall St., through Greece, punishing cryptocurrency exchange operators under the rubric of ‘money laundering’ and ‘drug trafficking.’ Alexander Vinnik, 38 and Russian, was apparently the operator of BTC-E, an early cryptocurrency exchange.
He was just arrested in Greece.
Vinnik is facing 17 counts of money laundering and two counts of engaging in unlawful monetary transactions, while he and BTC-e, through a holding company called Canton Business Corp., are each facing one count of operating an illegal money transfer service. The site is facing a $110 million fine from FinCEN, while Vinnik is being fined $12 million.
If convicted on all counts, the Russian-born Vinnik could serve up to 55 years in a US prison, according to CoinDesk.
Until now, little has been known about BTC-E, which CoinDesk described as the digital-currency market’s “murkiest exchange long suspected of enabling criminal activity.”
This is a classic fear campaign being waged to keep the headlines bearish and normal people cowed. The CFTC made its announcement in the name of consumer protection, something it most certainly doesn’t do on its best days — allowing Wall St. to front-run trades through dark pool trading and refusing to prosecute them even after their worst crimes are exposed.
The extreme bullishness in the cryptocurrency space and blockchain technology in the past few months has the central banks “freaked out”, in the words of insider’s insider, former Plunge Protection Team member Dr. Pippa Malmgren.
Are we really that surprised we’re seeing a cluster of events surrounding the crypto-space in the past couple of weeks? Not only did we have these two events, but also the U.S. forcibly shutting down AlphaBay, the inheritor of Silk Road’s business in drugs, guns, and assassinations.
This is something to monitor carefully in the coming months, especially as the sovereign debt crisis begins to unfold and governments continue to scramble for tax money and ways to remind everyone just how much we need them.